Pyramiding in Yoga – a Tidbit Post, # 6

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pyramiding in yoga – a tidbit post

# 6





tidbits are, by definition, tiny bits


a google search indicates further elaboration –

qualities such as “pleasing” and “choice” are mentioned –

“small” and “bite-sized” also come up…


thus, this series of tidbits, of small bite-sized posts, are both my choice, and, hopefully, pleasing 😉

if this tidbit comes from, or leads to, a much longer, more complex post, a link will be provided –

thank you much



General Definition

Pyramid with Steeple
Pyramiding in Yoga - Photography Adan Lerma

sounds like a noun gone wild 😉

so what is pyramiding?

well, a google search of “pyramid exercise definition” comes up with, as always, a wealth of possibilities to explore

a simple quick definition, from, appears on the search page itself :

“A pyramid is a load pattern where the load for an exercise starts low then gradually increases with each set”

and a reverse pyramid, as you can guess simply means the opposite, an exercise load starts high then slowly decreases in some pattern

so, what is load, and how is it changing in the pyramid sequence?


Load, Within the Pyramid

another google search, for exercise load definition, finds, from :

“Physical exercise key parametres are its intensity, duration and frequency which together define volume of a training load. Each of these parametres plays an independent role in definition of training efficacy, their interrelation and mutual influence however are not less important”

key, to me, is that all three components, intensity duration and frequency, are evidently independent variables, yet “their interrelation and mutual influence however are not less important

typically, most people will think of either increasing, or decreasing, weight amounts, to increase or decrease load


Applying Concept of Portability

as per my post last week, “my tree (pose) needs prop(ping) – integrating yoga & fitness” i wrote of the concept of portability, which i had seen on ray long’s daily bandha site

Pyramid with Steeple
Pyramiding in Yoga - Photography, Adan Lerma

i spoke of how i thought i might could apply it across various ideas to help me understand, and use, the way i am able (and unable) to do tree pose, vrksasana

here, my idea is to simply show that the same process might be applied to both a yoga pose, and a sequence of pose movements

this is not new, dancers often apply this idea in developing choreography

what i do think is often missed, is the opportunity to, as in my tree-prop-pose post above, use that bit of knowledge to give ourselves credit for doing good for ourselves

in this case, with yoga, knowingly varying the triad of load factors, intensity duration or frequency, to increase or lessen the load i am experiencing doing a pose, or sequence of that pose, means :

* i can intentionally benefit from :

** needing to decrease my exertion level (for whatever reason)

** increase my exertion level to push my edge

* i can create a repeat sequence of a pose ahead of time

* i can create my forward pyramid or reverse pyramid on the fly (knowing i am adjusting myself, in the moment, in a manner that shifts me gradually into or out of the pose)

* know i benefit from either mode of pyramiding i do, forward or reverse

* can create my pyramid by :

** increasing or decreasing my intensity (degree of grounding, isometric focus, degree of “push” into the pose, or speed of the flow)

** altering the duration (time or number of breaths held)

** or changing frequency (the number of times i do the pose)

* i can create multiple sets, each with a pyramid within them, plus pyramid the set sequence itself


Pyramiding Possibilities in Yoga

Pyramid with Steeple
Pyramiding in Yoga - Photography Adan Lerma
Possible Applications

obviously, doing a pose, and holding that pose a varied amount of time, in a sequence of say, three, is one possibility

i could increase or decrease a physical component for downdog, adho mukha svanasana – such as the amount of time or number of breaths i hold downdog

i can also add or subtract :

* visualization in a pose

* a chant or audible during the pose

* props, in general, including the use of elastic bands


Actual Example

an example i’ve used, that pyramids visualization, within a pose movement, is in “opening a view of gratitude

the breath count was also extended, pyramided, during/within the pyramided visualization sequence

it was a fun sequence to do, and look forward to trying more of this in the future


Final Thoughts

though my example above, regarding opening a view of gratitude, has lots and lots of benefits, the benefit i can add today, as touched on earlier in the article, is knowingly applying the concept of pyramiding in my practice

the more i become aware of how and why i’m doing and benefiting from what i do in yoga or dance or meditation, or most any other activity of being human –

the more human i feel myself to be…

namaste – con dios – god be with you


tidbit series



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  1. Adan,

    I am thoroughly enjoying your posts and found a lot of interest on your article about pyramiding and sequencing. For me I find it important to separate the western workout idea of pyramiding applied to intensity, duration, frequency and volume from the eastern idea of progression in yoga known as vinyasa krama or to progress in series threw placement in a special way.

    The famous cycling coach of Lance Armstrong, Chris Carmichael, helps riders peak or pyramid for events by focusing toward specificity of an event applying intensity and frequency almost solely so that a rider can peak for 2 major events a year with 1/2 the volume! On the flip side without volume of training the intensity and frequency cannot be maintained for a long duration-something has to give. Here the weekend warrior or casual athlete cycles their training threw out the year.

    Vinyasa Krama has a couple definitions in yoga (the western meaning of vinyasa as flow is totally different) 1) to place in sequence in a special way 2) to achieve that which is unachievable-def. by the sage vamana rishi and used in ashtanga yoga to sequence each posture, each breath and the length of time holding each posture.

    So to nail your mountain pose barefoot you would start from the easiest standing/balancing postures and progress to more difficult, as well as holding balancing postures longer to develop concentration, balance and endurance:
    1. Standing in Samastiti barefoot
    2. Role up on tip toes and back on balls of feet Samastiti
    3. Uttanasa-Lighting bolt looking toward floor focused 2 ft. in front
    4. Uttanasa-raising heals balancing on the front toes
    5. From samastiti to warrior 3 or balancing stick pose hold for as long as you can
    6. Now your ready for your mountain pose
    7. If there is pain in the hip, add triangle pose just before warrior 3

    Thanks for the articles!



    • michael, so glad to hear from you, and that you’re enjoying the article

      readers should know you really know what you’re talking about when bringing up cycling (and yoga) and that you were a champion rider, and not that long ago 😉

      your nicely detailed mountain pose listing is, via vinyasa drama, i believe, a true progression in learning

      my idea was to take, as you point out, the western notion of pyramiding, involving intensity duration frequency or volume (load?), and use that to creatively change either one’s held-pose experience, or a mini- or larger moving series of reps in a sequence

      so, like this morning, we did these really nice one minute held poses, going from held-pose to held-pose; applying the pyramiding idea would be to hold a pose, say, first one minute, break, then two minutes, break, then maybe three minutes, in forward or reverse order

      applying the same pyramiding idea to a sequence, regardless if one thought of it as a vinyasa or not, the movements from pose to pose, even held-pose to held-pose, could by pyramided via an extension or decrease in held time, range of motion, etc

      your application and distinction from pyramiding, via vinyasa krama, is something i hadn’t considered in more than an extremely elementary way, so i truly appreciate your providing such a great example

      i hope all is well michael, and flourishing in my well remembered houston heat 😉

      if you have a site where you do more elaborating on themes like this, please let me know, would love to keep up

      take care, thanks so much!



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